WILDLIFE: Forest warning to haul up gardens for hurt animals

WILDLIFE: Forest warning to haul up gardens for hurt animals – tantamount to poaching but no radio tracking ?!!

File photo of an Elephant herd in the wild - beware of arrows - but herd leaders radio tagged yet ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Alipurduar, Sept. 21: The Buxa Tiger Reserve authorities have warned the managements of 12 tea gardens against harming wild animals straying into the plantations, saying it would “tantamount” to poaching.

The caution comes two days after an elephant was sighted in a garden with an arrow stuck on its hind leg.

Elephant raids are common on the tea estates of north Bengal. The animals often kill and injure residents of the fringe villages and destroy crops and huts. Annoyed workers look for an opportunity to retaliate and often shoot at them with arrows.

On Sunday, foresters of the north Rydak range under Buxa Tiger Reserve (east) division spotted an adult female elephant limping in Kartick Tea Estate because of the arrow on its hind leg.

By the time a veterinary officer from the tiger reserve arrived, the elephant had entered the nearby forest. The finger of suspicion has been pointed at the workers.

Deputy field director of the reserve’s (east) division Suvankar Sengupta said: “We are waiting for the wound to heal naturally. But if necessary, we will tranquillise the animal and treat it.”

Around six months ago, officials of the tiger reserve had consulted the garden authorities on conducting awareness drives so that workers did not cultivate crops right next to the forest land or harm animals. But only a few estates took up the drive. “I have written to all 12 gardens in our division, asking them to tell the workers to refrain from this sort of illegal activities. Otherwise, we may take action against the managements under the Wildlife Protection Act,” said Sengupta.

He said workers’ action would be treated as poaching and the accused could face up to 3-7 years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000 under Section 51 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Animesh Bose, project co-ordinator of Hnaf, a wildlife NGO, said: “If the workers spot any animals then they should inform the nearest forest office instead of taking action on their own.”

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